U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) paid a visit Wednesday to the Delaware Area Career Center’s Consolidated Campus on Columbus Pike in Delaware. Impressed by what he saw, Portman called the facility “a great opportunity” for Delaware County students.
Portman toured part of the facility with DACC Superintendent Mary Beth Freeman, who told the senator about the school’s history, programs, and recent consolidation from two campuses into one. Freeman told Portman that enrollment at the career center has exceeded previous projections by hundreds of students, and the school is still growing.
During the tour, Portman stopped at the Engineering Technology laboratory where he spoke to seniors and told them their school was “the best (career center) in Ohio right now, probably because it’s the newest.”
Two students from the program, Trey Cummings, a senior from Olentangy Liberty High School, and Evie Whittaker, a senior from Buckeye Valley High School, gave Portman a demonstration of some of the robotic equipment in the lab. They added the robots are the exact same as the ones used in manufacturing plants, which gives them valuable hands-on experience when they graduate.
Portman also visited the Welding Technology laboratory where Hogan Reis, a senior from Olentangy High School, used a plasma cutter to create a metal nameplate for Portman.
After the tour, Portman said he was very impressed by the campus.
“It’s a beautiful facility here,” Portman said. “You’ve got great equipment and instructors who are obviously very talented. There’s a lot of bright, young kids that are the best and the brightest, and I just love to see that. We need that type of (student), badly. Some of these young people are going to go onto college and others straight into work, but even those who go to college will know how to work in a technical setting, manufacturing setting, computer setting. It’s great for our economy and great for them. Those are the jobs of the future.”
Portman said he was pleased to hear enrollment is up at the school.
“There are so many students now who are interested in this opportunity,” he said. “To me that’s very positive and one of our challenges in Ohio is that over time, people got an impression of vocational education as not being up to the standards they want to see for their kids … I was inspired. It was good. It was a beautiful facility, I’ve never seen a career tech center this nice in Ohio, and I’ve seen a lot of them.”
He added that it was clear that the local districts in the county have made the DACC “a priority,” which he called a smart move.
“This is a good news story for Delaware County,” Portman said. “It’s a great opportunity. I encouraged these students to go back to their high schools and tell the freshman and sophomores to check this out, because it’s a good route.”
The DACC is just one of several career centers and technical schools that Portman has visited this year after authoring the JOBS Act, which Portman’s office states is “bipartisan legislation to make high-quality and rigorous short-term job training programs more affordable by expanding access to Pell Grants for low-income students.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.